California

Fun Fact: You can tell the difference between a seal and a sea lion because sea lions have protruding ears while seals do not. Check out the pictures for comparison…

Seal:

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Sea Lion:

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After enjoying such beautiful landscapes and fresh air, Las Vegas was like waking up on completely different planet. I had to take a few deep breaths and remind myself that I was there to see Las Vegas for what it is, a great place to party, gamble and see shows, which is exactly what we did. We had a great time at the Cirque du Soleil show “O”. O is their water based show with all the acts involving water. The acrobatics are amazing, but I LOVED seeing the scuba divers. They absolutely make that show happen, they give air to the acrobats underwater so that the crowd doesn’t see them surface again. The divers also move the stages around underwater. It was pretty cool to see that side and understand it from a divers perspective because I think if you aren’t a scuba diver, then you probably wouldn’t even notice them. After the show, we gambled at the Aria and the Bellagio, I was up $12.18 on the mermaid themed slot machine and then lost it all! Bummer. After a late night we left in the morning for the Hoover Dam and then on to Las Angeles. The Hoover Dam is cool, but I think after seeing the Panama Canal (which took 10 years to build and was completed 22 years before the Hoover Dam) it just wasn’t that impressive. I think that is probably a rare opinion, but, its how I felt about it.

Los Angeles was all about family. We spent the week with our nephews and Ronen’s brother, sister-in-law, mother, and grandmother. It was pretty special to see four generations of a family together. I was also lucky enough to see my cousin John, who I haven’t seen in 7 years. Other than family, it was LA, traffic, nice cars, and malls.
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We left LA for Monterey because we had tickets to the 3rd day of the California Roots Festival. We drove the Pacific Coast Highway and stopped at an Elephant Seal viewing area a couple of miles outside of Cambria. There were thousands of seals! They were all up on the beach molting (shedding their skin from last year and growing new skin) so it was pretty darn smelly, kind of like a tangy decaying smell.
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In the picture below you can see the seal on the left has already molted while the seal on the right is still in process, that why she looks like she is wearing a mask and is peeling.
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Once, we got to Monterey we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, walked around Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf and then went to the Festival. My favorite part of the Festival was seeing one of our favorite bands from Maui, Inna Vision. They really rocked it, I had a lot of pride for Hawaii when they were on stage. I do want to say one thing about the Festival, BE WHO YOU ARE. Trying to be someone you aren’t will never make you happy. Embrace yourself because those who mind don’t matter and those matter don’t mind. Your life is a story unfolding in front of you, write your own story, don’t let others write it for you.
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Anyway, after Monterey we drove to San Francisco, spent about an hour at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, saw Alcatraz and drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in heavy fog and mist.
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We drove up the Pacific Coast Highway and it was foggy and misty the entire drive to Fort Bragg.  We decided to pay for a motel in Fort Bragg because the 2 nights before that in Monterey, we couldn’t find a room for under $275 and all the campgrounds were full so we slept in the car in the Save-Mart parking lot. We got a great room for $100 at the Surf and Sand Inn, went to dinner at Piaci’s and had such a great time chatting with the locals that we stayed until closing. I must say Piaci’s had great food, the Bartender was awesome, he has quite a talent for wiggling his ears without moving his eyebrows, and the beer list is chock full of microbrews that are delicious. The next morning the sun was finally starting to come out so we went to Glass Beach, which is a beach that used to be adjacent to the landfill so the beach is full of pieces of sea glass, or mermaid tears as I like to call them. Ronen wanted to try snorkeling there but he got up to his calves and couldn’t feel his toes so he decided it wasn’t such a good idea without a wetsuit.
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Then we went and checked out this sinkhole/blowhole down by Mendocino. It was pretty darn cool, it’s about 60 feet in diameter and about 100 feet deep with a little beach and a sea cave that’s about 150+ feet out to the ocean so the waves wash up on the beach. In order to get down to the beach, which technically, you aren’t supposed to do, you have to hold on to a rope and sort of scramble/repel down the side.
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After the sink hole, we went to Van Damme State Park then to hike Russian Gulch back to a waterfall. Its 4.6 miles round trip hike through the redwoods. It was beautiful, with the massive redwoods dripping with moss and the ferns and wildflowers blanketing the forest floor.
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We left late afternoon and drove to Lake Tahoe, I think I murdered a billion bugs along the way because our windshield, headlights, and the front of the Thule box, looked like they had shag carpet on them. We didn’t get to Tahoe City until 11:15 pm so everything was closed and we ended up sleeping in the car. It wasn’t so bad because it was cold outside (lower 40’s) so the car was warmer than our tent would have been. We woke up in the morning, drove to a little park and checked out the daylight view of the lake.
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Which brings me to now…we just entered Idaho on our way to Yellowstone. We have driven 500 miles so far today and we still have 370 miles until Yellowstone so I think we will camp someplace near Twin Falls for the night.  My next posts will be about Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and we should be home in about a week.